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As the world engages in an uphill battle against Covid-19, the pandemic has brought upon uncertainty and unrest. We ask some of our friends at Prestige to share their introspective breakthroughs during this crucial period of self-isolation and social distancing as we work towards embracing a new normal.

Aaron Chin, Entrepreneur

We all know how the coronavirus wreaked havoc globally and caused most businesses and markets to grind to a halt. But I see the crisis as an opportunity for those of us who are lucky enough to practise social distancing and self-isolation, to utilise this time for self-recalibration and to reset our priorities, the primary of which I believe is our relationship with our “selves” and the material world. Most of us live immersed in our daily lives, chasing after more money, more power, more attention, more love, more of everything. Instead of being endlessly chained to these unconscious desires and cravings, and the impulse to repeat it over and over again, perhaps it’s time to untie ourselves from decades of social and cultural conditionings in relations to our work, our relationships, our beliefs, our thoughts, and our whole way of living; use this newfound time at home to kickstart an inner journey of self-inquiry. We tend to look up to authority or gravitate towards power figures and gurus for answers to life’s most important questions, but the truth can only be found within our own selves. In order to change the world and bring about peace and equality, or to build a more resilient world post-Covid-19, we need to first find inner peace and freedom within ourselves, otherwise fighting for any ideals would be akin to collectively shouting for silence – we create more of what we don’t want.

Alena Murang, Musician and Artist

The virus has shown us how Mother Earth, nature, flourishes without (or with less) human activity. If we just look in our backyard in KL, the polluted Klang River has significantly cleared up, the temperature has reduced. It’s made me reflect a lot, about how much I, and we, really need in this life; because being in self-isolation, having certain factories closed, and facilities closed, shows that we can live with less, and this is better for the wellbeing of Mother Nature, and therefore, for the survival of humanity. I’ve also seen how people within an industry have actually come together to collaborate rather than compete, and that has been so beautiful to see that the impact is bigger than standing alone.

Azran Osman-Rani, Naluri co-founder

During these challenging and turbulent times, we are not short of advice on what to do. From tips on working from home, exercising indoors, running effective Zoom meetings, investing in bear markets and eating well. Yet, many struggle to implement this advice. I believe one thing holds us back – acceptance. We subconsciously hope that after Covid-19, things will return back to how they used to be. We do not commit to the situation, nor commit to the new practices. The tension between the logical part knowing we have to change and adapt, and the emotional part yearning for the stability of the past creates pressure, anxiety and depression. When we accept, we can move on and do what we need to do to move ahead, and let go of that yearning for the good old days.

Bob Chua, BlinQ Founder

Day 33 of the MCO. It actually took me a while to figure how long we’ve been in this situation. Days have merged into weeks, and soon weeks into months. I no longer measure time by days, but by how much weight I’ve gained, and facial hair I’ve grown. So far, we’ve been okay. I think the kids are handling it much better than us adults. The cats think we’re just cramping their style and seem even more grumpy. We’ve exhausted every form of online courses, yoga tutorials, Spanish lessons, and books to keep us occupied. My wife has also caught me browsing sites for new bikes, cars, boats and whatever unnecessary toys that I seriously don’t need and definitely can’t afford. I must have cooked at least 120 meals by now, enough to feed an army, and learnt how to make sourdough bread, churros and whatever else everyone seems to be sharing on Instagram. In all seriousness however, I must say that we really have it easy. We must be thankful for what we have, the time we have together, and wholeheartedly thank our brothers and sisters on the frontline, keeping us safe and alive. We are forever grateful.

Deborah Henry, Fugee School Co-Founder

I am a highly resilient creature, aren’t we all? I have experienced and witnessed how strong we all are. Human beings are incredible entities, we have that survival instinct in our DNA and it has been so fascinating to see how different people find ways to adapt and cope. “When you can’t go outside, go inside” — I saw this quote on my Instagram feed and it has really grown on me. We are literally stuck indoors and this has been a beautiful opportunity for me to spend time with myself (usually I have a million places to be but not now). I’ve tried to use this time to sit still, to self-reflect, to get to know myself better and I’ve also started a new meditation practice which has given me more inner peace and tranquility amidst so much uncertainty and confusion. “You only have control over yourself” – I think we all try to have control over situations and people in our lives, thinking we can steer the way and control outcomes, but throughout this pandemic, we have all been tested. It is clear, we don’t have control over the pandemic, the MCO, the global shutdown etc. All we have control over is ourselves — our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. We only have this absolute power over ourselves, yet so often we focus our energy on everything else except ourselves.

Datin Dian Lee, The Clearwater Group founder

It has reinforced some of my beliefs of not taking things for granted; to be grateful for what you have and to reach out and help one another. These are some of the values that are reinforced at this time. It is so easy to take our freedom, our health for granted and suddenly you have this virus and the whole world is on lockdown. I think it is really important that we appreciate the life we have and the same time, now more than ever, the need to empathise with others because times are going to be really tough for a lot of people and we all need to be very mindful of that. I am someone who always tries to see the glass half full. If you look around there is a lot of good in the world. There are so many movements, people coming together to help one another, there is so much good. My daughter has this quote that hangs in her room, “stars can’t shine without darkness,” and I really believe that. In times like this we see hope and we see light and that light shines brighter than ever. It is a life changing experience and for me I know I will never take my freedom for granted ever again.

Ee Soon Wei, Art Printing Works CEO

Increasingly, the idea of “cocooning” seems to become more relevant as I experience different facets of managing the current Covid-19 situation. It’s taken all of us by surprise, crashing us to a halt. The situation at hand is entirely dynamic, hence the response requires the same amount of accuracy. I have been working towards how to rebalance the current situation at hand – be it work situations especially when planning and decision making are involved; what’s paramount is the quality of communication. On a personal level, there is definitely a more introspective approach towards things and it really does question one’s value system and conditioning process. I feel that we are going through a bifurcation and it requires careful navigation with empathy.

Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, National Artistic Gymnast

I’ve learnt the value of time spent together and also everyday life. It is also important to live day by day and try to have a productive day. This can be from working out to having a day for yourself. Our lives can be very fast paced and this is the time that we can reflect on what we want in our lives.

Hannah Yeoh, Member of Parliament for Segambut

It is a luxury I never had during my 12 years of politics. I have also learned to cook and bake by watching YouTube videos. I am definitely more rested now and learning to accept the MCO instead of struggling with the initial feeling of uneasiness. I think a lot about food security and essential services now. I have a greater appreciation of farmers after hearing of supply and distribution challenges during this MCO. This MCO has made me more grateful. I will never waste food again. I am also more organised. Now I have a shopping list because if you forget something it means having to queue all over again. I am optimistic because I am sure we will bounce back stronger.

Iqbal Ameer, Livescape Group CEO

Covid-19 has sent a relentless flow across all industries and has drastically changed the way we live our life. The events industry will be one of the hardest to bounce back. Coming from an events background, our business is built around forging connections and experiences. Although we expect this to affect everyone’s way of living, working and socialising, I predict a renaissance of the roaring ‘20s in a new age that gave birth to some of the ways we live today. I expect a huge influx in live and experiential events and an extremely supportive local arts and music scene. What I’ve learnt even more during this time? You decide if you want to stand down and give up, you decide if you want to come out better. You write the future.

Jenn Low, Wanderlust+Co Founder

As a founder, leading the team through this Covid-19 period has been a real challenge to say the least. No two days are the same and there’s always unexpected situations that pop up on the daily basis. Along the way, I’ve come to realise that the only thing we’re in control of, is our reaction to situations, and the importance of being grateful and staying grounded. There’s always good in each day, and being positive doesn’t mean that everything is perfect; it’s trusting that things can and will be better with collective direction and effort. We’ve made endless pivots to our launches and campaign strategies as well as day-to-day operations. The fashion industry has had a huge wakeup call with this pandemic – having to slow down and reevaluate its methods, and rethink how it engages the global community and its audience in general. I would like for us to be able to look back at this time, and be proud that we did our best, finding new ways to be creative, productive and producing thoughtful content and products that really matter in the world, instead of for the sake of it

Marion Caunter, Hairplay Salon Founder

I will never take little things for granted, to just go out and buy groceries or grab a coffee without having to worry about catching a virus or coming home sick. A handshake, a hug, a conversation with people, face to face, travel, just to never take any of these things for granted again. I truly believe that with Covid-19, God is speaking to us and asking us to wake up and think about what we have been doing as human beings to our planet, to Mother Nature. It is time to wake up, re-evaluate and start afresh in a way and that’s going to be very challenging for businesses and that makes me pessimistic at times. But as with everything in life, you have to go through hard times to have the good ones and in that sense, I am remaining very optimistic for our world but at the same time being honest and realistic about the fact that a lot of things we used to enjoy may not happen anymore, like fashion weeks. Will that happen as frequently as it used to? But I believe that things will change for the better. You may not see it now but you will see.

Datuk Nicol David, Eight-Time World Squash Champion

Nothing is in our control; we have all heard this before yet we’ve never felt it more to be true than in these times. I believe we’re going to grow out of this, we’re learning so much and realising the importance of changing our perspective in life. On one hand, we are learning that we have to work together as a team. One part of the team has to stay home, another part of the team has to measure the evolution of the disease and another team is fighting hands on so all of us can be safe. We all have a role, and we have to be responsible and understand the importance of doing our part. On the other hand, we can be compassionate. Every day we can think about others, do something to help each other but also reach out if you need help. It may seem that we are alone in this time but it’s actually when we have felt the most connected. We’re probably reaching out to friends more than ever; we’re sharing with our families for longer periods and also, we’re sharing more with ourselves. These times will not only bring unity and love to our lives but it will also nourish a better relationship with ourselves. I want to thank all the front liners and everyone working to create a safer place for all of us. Let’s keep strong, let’s keep compassionate and let’s grow together.

Red Hong Yi, Artist

When we were told to self-isolate and stay at home, I went into productivity overdrive; I worked even more, exercised more, and became more organised and productive. I suppose it was the fear and realisation that we are in a changing world. I keep thinking about how to work with the demands of this new world we will be facing. While I feel renewed and refreshed on some days, there have been rough days when I think about the state of the world, especially how communities with less facilities and resources will cope. In a strange way, I think this collective experience will bring the world closer together – that’s my silver lining in all of this.

Read the full cover story in our May 2020 issue. Get special access to our digital issue to read now, no signup required.

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Julie Yim
Editor, Prestige MY
Julie is the Editor of Prestige Malaysia and brings with her 8 years of experience in publishing. She has a keen interest in food, fitness, travel, beauty and fashion. More often than not, she tends to overpack her suitcase with gourmet delicacies from her travels abroad.